The Vault, October 2011: The Business of Holidays
From Halloween to Hanukkah to New Year’s Day, the holidays are here! For some people, holidays mean time off. For others, they mean working harder than ever. It’s make-or-break time for retail businesses across the country. In this issue of The Vault, we look at the business of holidays!
Interview: Chris Zephro of Trick or Treat Studios
Chris Zephro quit his corporate job to make monster masks. Talk about living your dream–or in this case, your nightmare!
What’s it like running a seasonal business?
That’s the misperception–it’s not seasonal. The first trade show is in December, and there’s a major one every month through April. Then, it’s production time, and in July we start shipping again all the way through October.
Was it hard to make the leap into being an entrepreneur?
Not really. I was working for the Chief Financial Officer of Seagate, the world’s largest manufacturer of hard drives. I was making a ton of money, but I was miserable. So I decided to follow my passion instead.
What skills do you use as head of your own company?
I have an MBA in finance and operations management, and a minor in marketing, so I could run a company. As a mask collector, I had a lot of connections with artists and people at other mask companies.
Your masks are made in Mexico. What’s it like doing manufacturing in another country?
I didn’t outsource to cut costs. I could do it cheaper in the U.S. But the company I work with in Mexico has been making masks for 50 years. They can give me amazing quality in high volume. Plus, the CEO of my manufacturer is one my very best friends.
What do you love about your job?
I love being my own boss. I can do things the way I want to, with integrity, and it’s something I’m passionate about. One of the mask industry greats said that all of us in the Halloween business have a Peter Pan mentality–we get to stay kids forever.
What’s your advice for kids who want to start a business?
Pick something you’re passionate about. You’re going to work the hardest you have ever worked in your life for no money, at least in the beginning. But every time I go in the warehouse or pack a box, I smile.
Want to see some of Chris’s spooky wares? If you don’t mind scary stuff, visit their Web site at–you can even use the code TOTSPC for 10% off your very own mask. WARNING: Some of their masks are pretty gruesome!
Finding a holiday job
Looking for a part-time job? The holidays are a great time to look for one in retail, delivery, hospitality, and more. But don’t think it will be a cakewalk. With unemployment up, competition is stiff. You’ll need to polish your resume and work your connections.
Getting a “job job” isn’t your only option. You could also:
  • Make and sell crafts for holiday gifts
  • Ramp up your babysitting gigs
  • Offer holiday housecleaning services
For these and more ideas, check out:
Make hay when the snow falls
They say it’s better to give than to receive, but to retailers, it’s all good. The National Retail Federation projects $466 billion in holiday sales in 2011. That’s only a 2.8% increase from the year before, but in these recessionary times, retailers will take whatever they can get.
Here are a couple more stats from the holiday buffet:
  • Consumers will spend $2.5 billion on Halloween costumers this year. Zombies are the most popular choice, with 2.6 million people planning to dress as the shambling dead this Halloween.
  • 36% of all holiday shopping will happen online this year.

Hanukkah, Ramadan, Christmas, oh my!

If you have a job, you probably get some time off during the holidays (unless you work in retail and volunteer for that Christmas Day shift!). If you do, it’s out of the kindness of your employer’s heart–there’s no federal law that requires them to provide time off. Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah. Employers have to make allowances for different religions. Sometimes they offer a “floating” day off for this purpose. Being an employer can be complicated!
Posted in Biz Kid$ News